By Ariel Miller, ESRAG Newsletter Editor
The ESRAG Board reports with great sorrow the death of their fellow Director Jorge Aufranc of Guatemala on Sept. 5. He was a leader at Rotary’s highest levels, including serving as a Rotary International Director, Rotary Foundation Trustee, and on the Council of Legislation. He drew on every one of these roles and relationships to advocate for Rotary’s endorsing the environment as an Area of Focus, which the RI Board and Foundation Trustees voted unanimously to approve in June of 2020.
As a member of Rotary’s Enhancement Grant Model group, he helped shape Rotary’s environmental policy, defining a broad and bold array of actions eligible for Rotary global grants. The Board is remembering Jorge Aufranc with gratitude and send deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.
Aufranc had just joined ESRAG’s board in June of 2023, and was working through his Rotary networks to expand ESRAG’s visibility and impact. The loss of his leadership, experience, and connections across the Rotary world is a huge loss to us.
“He had worked tirelessly on many projects in South America,” wrote Shebab Elawar, a leading Rotary philanthropist and peace advocate. “He was a fantastic advocate for peace and for [tackling] environmental challenges. He had a great sense of humor and he could fill the room with positive energy. His attitude towards others around him was incredible. He was a great mentor for my wife and me and lots of young professionals. We all will miss him, and his service to others will be missed.”
As a Director of WASH RAG and a Cadre member, Jorge Aufranc was passionate about river restoration. ESRAG member Salvador Rico, founder of Cleaning the Rivers of the World, recalls how Aufranc supported him in presenting the plight of rivers and the populations who depend on them to the 2018 Zone Institute in Monterrey, México. That talk inspired intense emotion among the rising Rotary leaders in attendance. Aufranc surveyed the attendees to ask if they would support a request to the Council of Legislation to add the environment as an Area of Focus “and the vast majority voted for it,” Salvador reports.
The two kept in contact on river projects, including Rotary’s Adopt-a-River collaboration with the UN Environment Programme. “He mentioned he was really worried about the Motagua River that borders his country of Guatemala and Honduras.” Salvador says. The two Rotarians worked to build a bi-national committee to Adopt the River Motagua, planning a global grant project to address pollution and biodiversity loss.
“Jorge had planned to engage Rotary in an multi-sectorial Agreement of Cooperation to save the River Motagua and he did: this last Monday, September 25, 2023, President of Rotary International Gordon Mclnally signed that agreement of cooperation,” Salvador reports. “Jorge and I had planned to be together in Honduras on Saturday September 30, 2023 to be present at the signing of the agreement of cooperation of the Rotary clubs from Guatemala and Honduras to save the River Motagua. At this moment I am traveling to Honduras to be present at that signing ceremony in honor of our dear friend and leader Jorge Aufranc.
“Jorge’s passing leaves a huge void in our hearts but he left us his example and legacy. Hasta el Cielo, mi estimado Jorge!”